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Fostering Queer Joy: Affirming Cognitive Behaviour Therapy with LGBTQIA+ youth and their families

Dr Ilana Seager van Dyk

Tuesday, 4 June 2024


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth, along with other non-heterosexual, non-cisgender young people, experience disproportionately high rates of mental distress relative to their cisgender and heterosexual peers. Research links these higher rates of distress to anti-LGBTQIA+ stigma, showing that youth who grow up in environments that are not welcoming to LGBTQIA+ people experience higher stress. It follows, then, that effective mental health practice with LGBTQIA+ young people should directly address the deleterious impact of anti-LGBTQIA+ stigma on wellbeing. Indeed, mental health providers are uniquely positioned to combat systemic injustices and cultivate joy in LGBTQIA+ youth by providing affirming interventions. However, without training in LGBTQ+ affirming care, mental health providers may feel ill equipped to work with this population (Gandy et al., 2013), and LGBTQ+ youth may be less comfortable seeking care from providers (e.g., Zullo et al., 2021).

The event will be equivalent to 2.3/4hrs of CPD.


In this online workshop, Dr. Seager van Dyk will briefly introduce attendees to the latest research evidence supporting the use of affirming interventions with LGBTQIA+ adolescents. She will demystify common terms within the LGBTQIA+ community, and provide attendees with strategies to facilitate the exploration of sexual orientation and gender identity with clients (when appropriate) in an affirming way. Attendees will learn about the unique strengths and creativity of the LGBTQIA+ community and will identify ways to leverage those strengths in their work with LGBTQIA+ young people. Dr. Seager van Dyk will describe relevant theoretical frameworks for work with this population (e.g., minority stress theory), and guide participants through integrating these frameworks in a cognitive-behavioural case conceptualisation. Dr. Seager van Dyk will introduce existing CBT protocols for LGBTQIA+ people (e.g., Pachankis et al., 2022; Craig et al., 2021), and discuss how to adapt these protocols for use with adolescents to address their unique needs and challenges (e.g., coming out, gender dysphoria). Finally, Dr. Seager van Dyk will highlight strategies for navigating difficult conversations with family members of LGBTQIA+ youth (e.g., parents, caregivers), and ways to engage families in activities that foster joy and wellbeing in their LGBTQIA+ child/children.

Learning Objectives

1. Develop case conceptualizations using an integration of cognitive behavioural-, minority stress-, and LGBTQIA+-affirmative frameworks.
2. Identify strategies for adapting CBT when working with LGBTQIA+ youth including how to explain minority stress.
3. Identify at least 3 strategies for fostering pride and queer joy among LGBTQIA+ youth and their families in clinical practice.
4. Describe how to speak effectively with caregivers and parents about supporting LGBTQ+ youth identity development and mental health.

Training Modalities

Didactic content (e.g., slides), Q&A, video role play, polls, one experiential activity

Key References

Zullo, L., Seager van Dyk, I., Ollen, E. W., Ramos, N., Asarnow, J.R., & Miranda, J. (2021). Treatment recommendations and barriers to care for suicidal LGBTQ youth: A quality improvement study. Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 6(3), 393-409.

Seager van Dyk, I., Sena, R., McCord, C., Kodish, T., & DeAntonio, M. (2023). Affirming LGBTQIA+ youth in inpatient psychiatric settings. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Advance online publication.

Craig, S. L., Iacono, G., Pascoe, R., & Austin, A. (2021). Adapting clinical skills to telehealth: Applications of affirmative cognitive-behavioral therapy with LGBTQ+ Youth. Clinical Social Work Journal, 49(4), 471–483.

Pachankis, J. E., Harkness, A., Jackson, S., & Safren, S. A. (2022). Transdiagnostic LGBTQ-affirmative cognitive-behavioral therapy: Therapist guide. Oxford University Press.

Pachankis, J.E., Soulliard, Z.A., Morris, F., & Seager van Dyk, I. (2023). A model for adapting evidence-based interventions to be LGBQ-affirming: Putting minority stress principles and case conceptualization into clinical research and practice. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 30(1), 1-17.

About the presenter

Dr Ilana Seager van Dyk (she/her) is a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in clinical psychology at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. Her research aims to better understand the vast mental health disparities experienced by LGBTQIA+ youth, and to improve evidence-based clinical care for these youth and their families. To this end, Dr. Seager van Dyk currently holds a three-year grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to develop affirming cognitive behavioural therapy for LGBTQIA+ adolescents and their families, work that she begun in the USA. Dr. Seager van Dyk completed her B.A. in psychology and history of medicine at Yale University followed by two years as a post-baccalaureate research coordinator at the University of Miami. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Ohio State University, and completed a 12-month clinical residency in child and adolescent psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Seager van Dyk was also a postdoctoral associate at the Yale LGBTQ Mental Health Initiative and serves as co-chair of the Sexual and Gender Minority Special Interest Group within the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).

Who should attend

Any mental health professionals who work with young people, including psychologists, counsellors, social workers, and others. This workshop will assume attendees have a basic understanding of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Details coming soon

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